A Surprisingly Encouraging Conversation

I have a friend who I have always respected a great deal. He is full of creativity and energy. He is a great communicator and public speaker. He is trusted as an advisor and mentor to many people. He is also very good looking. I’m not sure, but I think he mentioned one time that he has done some modeling. Up to this point in my life, I have never been recruited as a model.

One time, we were having a conversation and he shared simply that he had really come to understand that life is hard. He shared that his journey since college graduation – marriage, kids, career, friends – was more difficult than he ever imagined when he graduated with plans to take on the world.

Now, this may seem like a discouraging comment for me to hear, but it was actually encouraging. Let me explain.

Since I graduated from college, I have also experienced that life has been more difficult than I could have predicted on that beautiful day in May when I received my diploma from Calvin College. I remained single until 30 and experienced a lot of pressure from many directions to just find the right person and get married. I have made some big career changes which have been wonderful, but also difficult.

And then there are my children. My parents tell all kinds of great stories from my childhood. These include humorous remembrances of the months they crawled past my younger brother’s bedroom praying that they wouldn’t wake him up as they went to bed. We laugh as we recount how many times my older brother threw up in the car. And they love to tell stories about my many childhood injuries because I was always moving fast and not thinking about what I was doing.

It seems that as time passes, the incredibly difficult days of raising children often get packaged into some funny and cute stories. I feel like no one really warned me how difficult raising children would be. Yes, the years go fast, but the difficult days (and nights) in the middle often go very slowly.

So it was actually nice to hear from my friend, who seems to always be doing great and on the top of his game, that life is hard for him too. I am in no way alone. Life is hard.

I hope I have not discouraged anyone, but instead want to encourage you that you can take the pressure off yourself that life should be easy for you or if it’s not that you are doing something wrong. There may be a few people who are an exception to the rule, but for most people, there are many daily struggles.

If you expect the journey to be difficult, you can find ways to  enjoy it in the midst of the hard times. And when you find your life is smooth sailing, be thankful, but don’t think you have found your new long-term reality.

I think my friend has done a great job building his life in spite of the difficulties and hardships he has faced. I hope that I can press on and do the same.

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